Libertarian Party Survey: 2012 Convention Date

Email from Libertarian Party national headquarters:

Dear Libertarian,

When is the best time for the Libertarian Party to hold its 2012 Presidential nominating convention? Below are arguments for three alternatives: before, during and after Memorial Day weekend. Following those arguments is a link to a survey, which has three boxes you can check to indicate which date or dates you prefer. If you strongly prefer ONE of the choices, check only that box. If you strongly OPPOSE one particular option, check the OTHER TWO boxes. If all three options are acceptable to you, check all three boxes.


Why we should have our convention before Memorial Day
by Kevin Knedler

I support having the national conventions before Memorial Day, specifically in the late-March thru early-May time period. I base this on three areas: financial, family and candidate conflicts, and weather.

We must consider bad weather’s impact on travel, no matter where the location of the national convention, especially in the months of December thru early-March. The 3rd and 4th weeks of March tie into Spring Break for many families, while some schools take a week off. April is far better weather, but the holiday of Easter should be avoided. Other than the 1st weekend in May, it is a month that includes Mothers Day, proms, graduations, and the big Memorial Day holiday. Speaking of Memorial Day, many people treat this as a family holiday and candidates are in parades.

While coordinating the Ohio state convention, plus real-job work, I have observed that many locations raise their rates after Memorial Day, and this is the reason that Ohio has their conventions in the April or early-May time period. Also, a Summer national convention takes away precious campaigning time for our Presidential candidate, not to mention conflicts with additional family events. The LNC should book and announce it’s national conventions at least 18 months in advance, so states have an opportunity to work around any conflicts.


Why we should have our convention on Memorial Day Weekend
by Bill Redpath

Even though I love visiting old friends in Indianapolis and going to the 500 on Memorial Day weekend, I think there are several good reasons to have our Presidential nominating conventions on that weekend. First, it is a three day weekend, which allows our employed members to conserve vacation days. Usually Memorial Day weekends are conducive to C-Span’s coverage of our Presidential nominations.

Additionally, if the convention is moved to an earlier date, there is a risk that the LP will end up implicitly asking prospective Presidential nominees to dedicate more than one year of their life to the entire process. While I hope they do do that, I am concerned that potentially good candidates, with successful lives outside of politics, will decline involvement in our process if they think it will take too big a chunk of their time. And, while I may be wrong, I am skeptical of the asserted benefits of an earlier convention. I think more of the public will see our convention on a holiday weekend, when there is less other news competing for their attention. I recommend continuing with Memorial Day weekend conventions in Presidential nominating years, but trying to have midterm conventions at some time other than Memorial Day weekend.


Why we should hold our convention after Memorial Day Weekend
by Norm Olsen

I support a date as late as possible (last weekend in June), a shortened convention (12 hours of business max), and avoiding a holiday weekend. There are several reasons for this.

For some reason (I hope it’s not in the by-laws) we were required to submit our list of national delegates 65 days prior to the national convention. If the national convention is moved to early April, the local affiliate convention will need to move to January. Difficult to get people excited about politics in January, a full 8 months before the primary, 10 months before the election. When the national convention was on July 4th weekend, we had 80 candidates on the ballot; this year we will have 19 after the primary; last general election year we had 12.

Holiday weekends are weekends for family, friends, and local campaign events. I seriously doubt there are many people who go to the expense of bringing family to a convention where dad or mom is going to be politicking for two and half straight days. This idea is nonsense.

We convene on holiday weekends only because the convention is tooooo loooong. There is no reason why we need to have more than 12 hours of business in a national convention. Actually, we should have 8 hours of national business and another 6 or 8 hours of training on various aspects of running political campaigns, fundraising, and organization building.

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-Paulie

37 thoughts on “Libertarian Party Survey: 2012 Convention Date

  1. paulie Post author

    I’m with Knedler on this, although unfortunately “Fall 2011” does not appear to be an option.

  2. Chuck Moulton

    This is a false choice.

    I like holiday weekends because members don’t have to take an extra day off work and because in my opinion we have a lot of real business to take care of.

    On the other hand I would prefer an earlier weekend than Memorial Day. I think a President’s Day or Martin Luther King Day or Labor Day (the year before) weekend etc. convention would be advisable.

    But this poll only has 3 options:
    * April to mid-May
    * Memorial Day Weekend
    * June

    I had to pick Memorial Day weekend because that was the only real holiday weekend.

    This feels a lot like an election survey where the only choices are Republican and Democrat… where is the Libertarian option? Why do I have to hold my nose and pick the least bad choice instead of being presented with an actual good choice?

    The results of this survey are essentially useless.

  3. wavy gravy

    Columbus day the year before?

    P-Day, MLK: Too many ice storms and travel delays.

  4. George Whitfield

    When I tried to take the survey and submitted my response, I received a notice that said I could not because I had already taken the survey. This was the first time that I have taken this survey so there must be some glitch in the process.

  5. paulie Post author

    Did you click on the link from IPR or from your email?

    It may be that the link I have here has a unique identifier assigned to me. If that is the case, it is telling you that I (not you) have already voted.

  6. Chuck Moulton

    Kevin Knedler’s arguments make the most sense. The weather issue is a real problem. But it needs to be considered quantitatively rather than qualitatively… I believe the benefit of a January/February convention over other alternatives is so large that it merits rolling the dice on snowstorms messing with some travel plans. Weather should not be a deal breaker for winter months.

    July 4th conventions were a real burden to candidates (and petitioners in some states like Pennsylvania). In my opinion July 4th was also way too late. Memorial Day robs candidates of another opportunity to campaign, but it is not as essential as July 4th. Many other holiday weekends do not constrain candidates because they don’t involve big town events or are far before the election. I am sympathetic to the concern for family time, but 1 weekend every 2 years should not be excessively burdensome to familial harmony.

    In response to Bill Redpath, I don’t agree that an earlier convention is necessarily so burdensome that it would deter many possible candidates. A strong contender who couldn’t commit full time campaigning for the longer period could simply be upfront with the delegates about his time constraints and let them decide whether to pick a candidate not available for a month early on (for example).

    Norm Olsen’s piece is the least compelling. The benefits of a holiday weekend increasing attendance by removing the need to take off an additional work day — or alternatively the benefits of having an extra day of business compared with a shorter convention — are huge.

    We have real business to attend to at conventions. The platform and bylaws are important. Electing officers is important. Selecting our presidential ticket is important. Shortchanging any of those processes by rushing them in an unnecessarily short period of time is a bad idea.

    States are required to submit their delegate list in advance, yes. But that list can be amended — at the convention itself even! Some states select their delegates at state conventions well in advance and hold an intervening state convention before the national convention after a list of delegates has already been selected. There is no reason states can’t select delegates 2 years in advance.

    All the credentials committee really needs is a list that includes 1 delegate. That entitles states to have a delegation and amend it later. Well written state bylaws can adapt easily to an earlier national convention by either selecting delegates at the year earlier state convention or empowering the state board to select or amend the delegates.

    It’s too bad the membership was sent these three arguments and not presented with an alternative viewpoint and alternative choice encompassing a much earlier convention.

  7. Luke McKellar

    I voted for Kevin’s proposal because I think that it was the best option. I like giving candidates a little more time to campaign; I also like not holding it over Memorial day weekend every 2 years. I’d be willing to settle for a Memorial day weekend maybe once every 4 years. July 4 is a no-no; candidates and delegates need to be campaigning and volunteering.

    Chuck @7 made some very good points, too. I was on the credentials committee as an alternate, and what he says in his 2nd to last paragraph is absolutely correct. Delegate selection should not be a reason to choose one date over another.

    And, I don’t like the “extra free vacation day” for the Memorial day weekend argument. “Vacation” days for me cost me money since I am self-employed. But even so, I would prefer an earlier convention if I were an employee.

  8. Michael H. Wilson

    Kevin wrote; “April is far better weather, but the holiday of Easter should be avoided.” For the record Easter does fall in March some years. It is on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox if my memory is correct thus it could be as early as March 22.

  9. paulie Post author

    Almost completely agree w/ Chuck, but I think winter weather is a bigger hazard than he does. If half the delegates can’t get there, or miss a lot, all sorts of chaos can ensue. If people can’t get home, also not good.

    Fall 2011? Not on the ballot and no-write-in choice. Not quite top two, but almost as bad.

  10. Libertarian Party National Bolshevik

    Thank you for the story from all the National Bolsheviks in the Libertarian Party.

    Many of us LP National Bolsheviks believe the convention should be held during the Presidential election day itself. That way we will get the most TV coverage.

    Granted we will not be on the ballot, but we never win anyway, so who needs to be on the ballot, much less have time to run a campaign?

    And, since we won’t be on the ballot, we won’t miss anything by being at our national convention instead of actually voting.

    Also, we will have more time for bylaws, platform and officer elections since we will not need to pick a president candidate.

  11. Operation Militant Political Homeless People

    I would like to strongly disagree with the views of the National Bolsheviks. As far as we militantly political homeless folks go, these Natioanal Bolshevik slime all need to be purged from the LP, even if it means we never get another vote again.

    We think the LP national convention should be held right after the preceding presidential election. That would give our nominee the maximum four years to campaign and get on the ballot. We will be the very first party to have a presidential candidate nominated every single time.

    Plus, all the press will be busy covering election returns, so there will be no outsiders keeping tabs on us and that way, we can keep the infiltrators out of our club.

    My neighbor’s dad has a really cool treehouse we can use for conventions, too.

  12. Operation Militant Political Homeless People

    Our candidates will campaign/petition/fundraise (all at the same time) at freeway off-ramps and downtown sidewalks every day of every year.

    They will sign up additional people to campaign/petition/fundraise full time and receive commissions on the people they sign up, the people those people sign up, etc.

    We will publish a party newspaper, which we will give away to the general public in return for donations.

    Every day there will be more of us, until we take over the country and the world.

    Then, we will all eat brains!

  13. Chuck Moulton

    Operation Militant Political Homeless People wrote:

    We think the LP national convention should be held right after the preceding presidential election. That would give our nominee the maximum four years to campaign and get on the ballot. … My neighbor’s dad has a really cool treehouse we can use for conventions, too.

    Our candidates will campaign/petition/fundraise (all at the same time) at freeway off-ramps and downtown sidewalks every day of every year. … Every day there will be more of us, until we take over the country and the world.

    Then, we will all eat brains!

    Braaaains…

  14. Sludge Puppy and the Scum Lords

    re # 15 be real cool I live near Forks, Washington and if you are not careful the real vampires will be out to get you and not the blood sucking politicians.

  15. Robert Capozzi

    Moulton nails the point.

    I’d add that our most recent prez campaign illustrates the point perfectly. It appeared that a lot of resources were wasted in the haste of getting ballot status. Buying time to get that done efficiently has the effect of freeing up the candidate.

    From a distance, it looked like Lucy in the chocolate factory in 08.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wp3m1vg06Q&feature=player_embedded

    As for Redpath’s “it’s too long” to campaign, can’t say I agree. The candidate can ramp up his or her activity as he or she sees fit. I’d hope we get a candidate who has time-management discipline.

  16. Starchild

    I think *when* we hold our conventions matters, but that what matters even more is *how* we hold them.

    Conventions are unique opportunities for us to meet and get to know each other, work more cooperatively, learn from each other, and get inspired, excited and motivated to go out and fight for freedom knowing we have comrades equally fired up and dedicated. To build a sense of solidarity as people working together as part of a movement for freedom. The most important, fun, and memorable parts of the conventions for many people are the time spent meeting new people, partying, and socializing with each other.

    Then there is also the chance to get motivated and learn more about libertarianism through the many excellent speakers we have in our movement. When we compress all this into a weekend, and add in party business, there just isn’t enough time to do it properly — especially if it only happens once every two years!

    People will get more involved in and committed to the Libertarian Party if we have more going on. I propose we make conventions a week long, and hold one every year. Compress the party business into the final weekend as usual, but fill the previous weekend and the week in between with events and happenings such as:

    • Local activism in the city or area where the convention is happening. Take advantage of the rare concentration of large numbers of Libertarians in one place at one time to throw big rallies in support of local candidates, lobby on local legislation, hold marches and protests on local or national issues, perhaps in coalition with other groups with pro-freedom stances on the issue in question, etc.

    • Workshops. There are so many potential ways to spread the libertarian message, but many of them we don’t use much or at all because they require skills. Well, why not have workshops to teach ourselves these skills and in some cases actually use the skills on site? We could invite experts to come in and give classes on things like performing street theater, making t-shirts, web design, creating, editing and posting videos, running pirate radio stations, guerilla campaign tactics, using music to spread freedom, making art for rallies and demonstrations, etc.

    • Fun events. Giving activists the chance to do fun stuff with other activists creates more chances for bonding and motivates more people to want to come to conventions (people like to have fun, and as one of the LP’s top activists, Ernest Hancock, says, if you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong!) Fun stuff could include outings to amusement parks, waterslides, nature hikes, visiting local tourist attractions in the convention area, participatory sporting events (gun shoots, anarchist vs. minarchist volleyball & softball games, sponsored mini-marathons to benefit a cause, etc.), mass outings to go see pro-freedom films playing locally, etc.

    • Speakers. Week-long conventions would give us more time to hear from more of the terrific speakers in the movement who many of us normally miss because they get scheduled opposite convention business sessions, at parallel time slots, early in the morning, etc. Giving activists more time to formally share what they’re doing where they live, what issues and problems they’re encountering, etc., with other activists would also increase networking, people helping each other and learning from each other, make us all better informed about what’s happening on the ground, etc. We could also have more free speaker appearances in public places for the benefit of non-Libertarians, which would not only help spread the word about our party and the ideas for which it stands, but also help advertise the convention.

    • Vendors. If we hold our conventions in venues where space does not come at a premium, we could invite large numbers of vendors to come and set up booths for free or at very low cost. This could perhaps take place on the weekend prior to the main convention business weekend. Lots of people *pay* just to attend car shows, gun shows, fashion expos, green events, etc., where they will have a specialized shopping opportunity with lots of merchants oriented around a particular industry. We could similarly offer a large, specialized pro-freedom/political shopping experience. This would help boost overall convention numbers, and inevitably some of the people coming to vend would buy speaker/meal packages even if the party weren’t making money from them directly via vendor fees. Also, convention attendees tend to buy a certain amount of drinks, snacks, etc., throughout the day and after hours, as well as meals when they do not go to meal events. If we hold conventions at places where we can bring our own food/beverages, the party can make money selling these things, either directly or by charging food/beverage vendors to be present, instead of activists giving all this money each convention to hotels and restaurants with the party earning a return only on formal meal events.

    • Music. Concerts and festivals also attract huge numbers of people, and provide an excellent way to excite, inspire, and motivate people who might not be excited, inspired, or motivated by just attending meetings, listening to speakers, etc. Such events would allow us to give up-and-coming libertarian musicians and other performing artists a chance to increase their visibility and reach wider audiences, and especially to connect with more young people. Concerts or festivals could also include speakers, plugs for convention packages, appeals for donations, etc., mixed in with performances.

    As should be obvious from the categories outlined above, conventions offer many exciting possibilities for helping take the Libertarian Party to the next level. But we need to think more ambitiously and expand what we are doing and the ways in which we are doing it in order to make this happen.

    Here are three key things that need to happen to help make this vision a reality:

    • Longer and more frequent conventions

    • Getting conventions out of the upscale hotels and into venues that are more affordable and offer greater flexibility

    • More variety and greater number of happenings by giving more people the opportunity to get involved in making convention events happen

    I hope that all of you reading this will talk to Libertarian leaders and other party members and encourage them to support these changes.

  17. Steven wilson

    If the candidate is less known, they need more time. A holiday launch only works if there is some kind of media.

    If the candidate is a celebrity or someone with name recognition, it needs to be later. With no time for issues or mistakes, the awe of the celebrity will last until the vote. Note, this works if the purpose is ballot access and media attention.

    I believe conventions serve a function of communication, so as we have one every two years, they should be short and dynamic. The focus should be known to all, not just the LNC.

    If ballot access is the key, then Russel or Stossel it is and just understand the purpose of it. Don’t make it into something it is not.

  18. paulie Post author

    Starchild’s ideas are very good. I don’t get the sense the present LP leadership is anywhere close to seriously considering them. May be best to start it as an experiment in some state/region.

  19. Erik G.

    There really isn’t a good answer to this.

    To me, Memorial Day is nice in that it’s on a holiday weekend with (typically) good weather, but it’s also later in the campaign season than I would like.

    The previous fall or January/February could find a holiday weekend, but then there’s certainly travel concerns (most of which *could* be nearly alleviated if we held conventions primarily in the South and Southwest, sort of like football does with its bowls), and we risk being overshadowed by the build-up to the Democratic and Republican conventions. Too long of a period could also give opponents potentially more time to dig up dirt on us, not that such a thing is a huge concern at this time. One other thing a much earlier convention does, however, is stop the ability of a Republican or Democrat with some primary momentum from being considered. I know many in the LP may consider this a blessing, but, for example, offering Ron Paul a chance in ’08 wouldn’t have even been possible (or perhaps Gary Johnson in ’12?).

    Personally, I like late March / early April the most, but the lack of a holiday weekend is painful. There’s still political buzz in those months from the previous month’s primaries & caucuses (and sometimes, such as last year, even ongoing races), but it’s less so than in the Winter. There’s also generally good weather by that time, and even then – as I said with January/February – holding it in a more southern location (if need be) would at least mean that most delegates could make it, as the entire northern part of the country won’t be under bad weather. Perhaps online delegate voting could be built up as an alternative for those trapped by weather?

    I also love Starchild’s idea, but I’m not so sure that most people have the ability to take an entire weekend off. I haven’t run the numbers on cost/benefit analysis, but I think it may actually be cheaper to have two weekend events than 1 full week, especially if one were on a holiday. For example, if we held our convention in early April, we could then use Memorial Day to have a candidate showcase and workshop, with live music, etc.

    Also, paulie, have you left CO yet?

  20. paulie Post author

    The previous fall or January/February could find a holiday weekend, but then there’s certainly travel concerns (most of which *could* be nearly alleviated if we held conventions primarily in the South and Southwest, sort of like football does with its bowls), and we risk being overshadowed by the build-up to the Democratic and Republican conventions.

    1) Weather is an issue in Jan/Feb, not so much in Sept/Oct

    2) Travel issues have to do with not just where the convention is, bu also where people are coming from and going through.

    3) I can pretty much guarantee we’ll be overshadowed by the Ds/Rs no matter what we do for at least a while.

  21. paulie Post author

    Too long of a period could also give opponents potentially more time to dig up dirt on us

    If there’s dirt to be dug, I doubt it would take months to dig it up.

  22. paulie Post author

    One other thing a much earlier convention does, however, is stop the ability of a Republican or Democrat with some primary momentum from being considered. I know many in the LP may consider this a blessing, but, for example, offering Ron Paul a chance in ‘08 wouldn’t have even been possible (or perhaps Gary Johnson in ‘12?).

    True, but on balance I still think fall 2011 is better.

  23. paulie Post author

    I also love Starchild’s idea, but I’m not so sure that most people have the ability to take an entire [week] off.

    People can attend just the part of the event that interests them most. Some people are more keen on the social part and don’t care about business, others, just the opposite.

  24. paulie Post author

    Also, paulie, have you left CO yet?

    Still here, leaving today. Not sure when I will get booted off the computer. 415-690-6352.

  25. Ralph Swanson

    I think it should be held the year before.

    I tried the link and it’s useless.

  26. Erik G.

    paulie @25:

    Perhaps we could combine fall 2011 with Memorial Day 2012? Pick our presidential nominee in the fall, and then have a 3-day weekend of Starchild’s idea in the spring to showcase our candidates, do workshops, etc.? Or, even have a two-day weekend of it in March/April?

    I’m still wary of the inability to attract a Ron Paul or Gary Johnson, but in the long-run I doubt there will be many like them with momentum anyhow. Also, if we picked a good enough candidate (i.e. *not* Bob Barr) it may be possible to get a candidate like Paul/Johnson’s endorsement anyway.

  27. Erik G.

    paulie @27:

    I might be able to make it up there around noon, but I’m not sure. I wound up in Boulder last night, so sorry about that.

  28. paulie Post author

    All good, it’s gonna take us longer than that to pack for sure, but I may have to get off the computer, so call me if you are headed up.

  29. Dan Wiener

    Only the people on the LP email list who directly received the survey are able to vote. This survey will provide guidance to the LNC in choosing a date for the 2012 convention, but in itself it won’t be determinative; there’s still a lot of debate ahead before a final decision is made. Not every possible option was listed, only the most likely ones.

    From the above comments it’s obvious that there’s a great disparity of opinion as to when the convention should be held, how long it should be, what it should consist of, etc. We’re trying to maximum attendance, with reasonable prices and dates which the large majority can fit into their busy schedules. Still, the eventual choice will represent a compromise. Some potential delegates will be unable to attend due to conflicts in their personal schedules or business commitments. That’s just reality.

  30. Robert Milnes

    Erik G., I had some respect for your comments until @29. Ron Paul & Gary Johnson are discredited as not being real libertarians hence not good P. material. Are you following paulie on the go nowhere Ron Paul supporters’ train?

  31. kevin knedler

    In “off-years” like 2014, the Summer will work, but in presidential years, we best get our presidential team on the ground before Memorial Day. In 2006, the LP had its Portland Oregon convention over July 4 weekend. That sucks for candidates in parades. The midwest is big time with parades on the 4th of July.

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